With one of the biggest days in Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise history just over one day away, general manager Jason Licht, head coach Lovie Smith, and the rest of the team’s decision-makers have the daunting task of drafting the next quarterback for the team. The Buccaneers have a history of not having much success when it comes to quarterbacks, with even their Super Bowl-winning quarterback Brad Johnson being more or less average. However, tomorrow night the Buccaneers will have the choice between two very good prospects: Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
We all know about Winston’s leadership skills, his ambitious nature, and his dynamic traits on the field. But we also know about Winston’s issues, which are undoubtedly exaggerated, off of it. We also know that Winston played in a pro-style offense at Florida State and has the best football IQ since Andrew Luck, which is why Winston is considered by many to be a pro-ready quarterback and a starter from day one. When watching Winston on tape, one is easily impressed by the type of anticipatory throws he makes and his competitive nature is one-of-a-kind. He seems to be a natural leader, and off-field stuff aside, he’s a clear candidate for the number one overall pick in this year’s draft.
Now this isn’t a story about comparing the two quarterbacks on tape, or debating why one of the two will be more successful in the NFL, because that debate has been exhausted at this point, and the tape on both of them is impressive. The fact of the matter is, both Winston and Mariota possess the talent to be very good in the NFL, and now it just comes to picking the quarterback that is in a better position to be a true franchise quarterback.
That quarterback is Marcus Mariota. Mariota, although often quiet and not as vocal as Winston, is a leader and leads through his actions. He has not gotten into trouble off of the football field, which is a sign of leadership, he hasn’t thrown any tantrums when things haven’t gone his way, also a sign of leadership, and most important of all, he puts his teammates in a position to be successful, and that’s the biggest telltale sign. Mariota makes better decisions on the field, those that allow his teammates to succeed, and that’s what’s most impressive.
If the Buccaneers want the guy that seems to be more ready right now, they’ll take Winston. But if they want the guy that is better suited to succeed over the long-term, they’ll take Mariota, who of course will have plenty of things to learn about running a pro-style offense.